Book Reviews, Lists, Discussions, and Displays

Category: Non-Fiction (Page 1 of 3)

Book Review: Wait I’m Working With Who

Wait, I’m Working With Who?!? The Essential Guide To Dealing With Difficult Coworkers, Annoying Managers, and Other Toxic Personalities – Peter Economy – Career Press – Published 1 April 2021

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Synopsis

Who hasn’t had to deal with a jerk at work? Whether it’s a toxic team member who loves nothing more than to suck the life and excitement out of her colleagues, the difficult coworker who isn’t happy unless the office is filled with mayhem and drama, or a bad boss who causes his employees to constantly dream of telling him to “Take this job and shove it!”, we’ve all had to deal with people on the job we would rather not.

Wait, I’m Working with Who?!? is the essential guide to identifying and dealing with jerks at work, including bad bosses, troublemaking coworkers, lazy and time-sucking team members, and toxic people of all sorts. This book covers the negative impact that problematic coworkers have on the workplace—lost productivity, high turnover, a company culture of ambivalence or defeat—and catalogs 16 specific species. It then goes on to share detailed steps for dealing with these characters—whether you’re an employee or a manager. The information and strategies in these chapters will be immediately actionable and profoundly helpful.

My thoughts

Everyone has worked in teams and everyone has worked with or for a difficult person at some point in their life (and if not, then you are pretty lucky). Working with others takes a careful balance of skills and considering different personalities. I’ve read many books about working in teams or people management but few of them focus on the challenges and the really tough stuff of conflict management. If you too have noticed that gap or want a guide on how to handle that person you just don’t get or who is constantly negative or bringing you down at work, then this is the book for you.

Wait, I’m Working With Who? Starts with A Field Guide To Jerks At Work. It outlines both the impact of workers that the book labels as jerks and then lists the sixteen most common jerks you’ll encounter. It lists behaviours and traits you might recognise or things to be on the lookout for. I like that though this book is all about helping you work better with others, it doesn’t neglect the reader or their role in the workplace, encouraging you to reflect on your own behaviour and identify when your behaviour might slide into jerk territory.

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Book Review: Build Great Teams

Build Great Teams: How To Harness, Create and Be Part of a Powerful Team – American Library Association and Catherine Hakala-Ausperk – Simple Truths – Published 30 March 2021

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Synopsis

Teamwork matters. But how do you A) enlist a powerhouse team; B) develop successful teamwork skills; and C) turn a troubled team around?

In just one year (or 52-weeks), you can achieve your personal dream team through Catherine Hakala-Ausperk’s proven program. Organized into 52 modules—designed to cover a year of weekly sessions, but easily adaptable for any pace—Build Great Teams covers major management issues such as: success with recruiting, setting teammates up for success, good organizational communication skills, establishing an innovative team, and more!

My thoughts

Build Great Teams appears to be a re-release of the 2012 title Build a Great Team: One Year to Success. While I haven’t read that book, looking at the summary and contents page, the two seem to have very similar content and layout, with just a few updates and changes.

Build Great Teams is a very approachable book. It is set out as a guide you could use over a year to improve your team leading skills. Each week’s content is extremely short (most just a page and a half long, with very large text and a large stock image taking up most of the space). The text is also very readable. No research, stats or other details, this book is like a friend giving you a few tips to try out each week. I had read a whole month’s worth before realising that it was a month’s worth and not just one week.

While this book is something I could certainly see having time in my week to fit in, it didn’t have the depth of content I was looking for. Each week’s content is more a general suggestion of how a team might work best together or an example from another company. The learning is implied.

I think to get the most out of this book, I would need to use each chapter as merely a starting point and do some reflection or find some related activities to go with each chapter’s topic.  The marketing materials do mention the possibility of accompanying workbooks or resources, which I think would make this a far more practical resource.  Continue reading

Book Review: Escape at 10,000 Feet

Unsolved Case Files: Escape at 10,000 Feet: D.B. Cooper and the Missing Money – Tom Sullivan – Unsolved Case Files #1 – Balzer+Bray – Published 2 March 2021

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Synopsis

CASE NO. 001: NORJAK
NOVEMBER 24, 1971
PORTLAND, OREGON

2:00 P.M.
A man in his mid-forties, wearing a suit and overcoat, buys a ticket for Northwest Orient Airlines flight 305 bound for Seattle.

3:07 P.M.
The man presents his demands: $200,000 in cash and four parachutes. If the demands are not met, he threatens to detonate the explosive device in his briefcase.

So begins the astonishing true story of the man known as D.B. Cooper, and the only unsolved airplane hijacking case in the United States.

My thoughts

Can you solve the case? That is the premise for this new series. Escape at 10,000 Feet is a non-fiction graphic novel, that entices the reader to try their hand at solving a case that has stumped FBI investigators for years. It also introduces an interesting time in history and air travel.

This is perfect for budding young detectives. Those that love mystery novels or books on spies will love this true story about a heist at 10,000 feet and the man who got away with $200,000.

This is not a graphic novel in the traditional sense – no call outs, just panels that illustrate the story along with factual documents, FBI files, diagrams and information to help the reader piece together the facts. The graphics are bright and dramatic and the storytelling powerful through the use of the narration and carefully placed illustrations.

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Book Review: A Year Full of Celebrations and Festivals

 A Year Full of Celebrations and Festivals – Claire Grace and Christopher Corr (ill.) – Frances Lincoln Children’s Books – Published 5 January 2021 

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Synopsis

Countless different festivals are celebrated all over the world throughout the year. Some are national holidays, celebrated for religious and cultural reasons, or to mark an important date in history, while others are just for fun. Give thanks and tuck into a delicious meal with friends and family at Thanksgiving, get caught up in a messy tomato fight in Spain at La Tomatina, add a splash of color to your day at the Holi festival of colors and celebrate the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

My thoughts

A Year Full of Celebrations and Festivals is a brightly coloured book about festivals and celebrations that happen around the world. This book overs a brief insight into the celebrations it features. There is a nice spread of festival types and celebrations from around the world.

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Book Review: True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News

True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News – Cindy L. Otis – Feiwel and Friends – Published July 28 2020

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Synopsis

A former CIA analyst unveils the true history of fake news and gives readers tips on how to avoid falling victim to it in this highly designed informative YA nonfiction title.

“Fake news” is a term you’ve probably heard a lot in the last few years, but it’s not a new phenomenon. From the ancient Egyptians to the French Revolution to Jack the Ripper and the founding fathers, fake news has been around as long as human civilization. But that doesn’t mean that we should just give up on the idea of finding the truth.

My thoughts

This title caught my eye as I was teaching our Year 7 classes a unit on Fake News. It is a perfectly timed and titled novel and it works as a perfect resource for our unit. The author, Cindy L. Otis is a former CIA analyst and that gives credit and interest to the book. She brings an interesting perspective to this mix of fake news history and skills and tips for identifying and responding to fake news.

I was thoroughly impressed by the writing style of this book. I thought I might flick through it, but I found myself engaged in the text and the way Otis weaves the story. Each chapter is compelling and told in an easy-to-read way. There are funny asides and the language used is as approachable to teens as it is to adults.

I’m happy to report that the examples and exercises used in the novel are not all USA focused. The book starts with an exploration of fake news through history, including tales of Jack the Ripper and Ancient Egyptians to monarchs, revolutions and wars. Then comes the introduction of telegraphs, radio, television, internet and social media. Each chapter shows how the changes in society and technology influenced and were influenced by fake news. Each part in the laying out of the history of fake news is given an interesting story and example of the impact of the fake news.

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Book Review: The Infographic Guide to Grammar

The Infographic Guide to Grammar: A Visual Reference for Everything You Need to Know – Jara Kern, Carissa Lytle – Adams Media – Published 4 August 2020

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Synopsis

This illustrated guide to English grammar gives you everything you need for a better understanding of how to write and punctuate correctly. From proper comma usage to the correct form of there, their, or they’re—understanding grammar has never been easier.

Is it who or whom? Affect or effect? And what is a prepositional phrase? With The Infographic Guide to Grammar, you’ll learn the answers to all of these questions, and so much more. Filled with colorful, easy-to-understand entries, this book includes topics like:

–Basic sentence structure
–The parts of speech
–Common mistakes and how to avoid them

My thoughts

Is it wrong of me to say I really want to cut this book up and hang all the pages up around my library like beautiful posters? Well, right or wrong that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I really think this book should come in a pull-apart, poster version so everyone can see, use and be helped by the colourful infographics that cover everything from punctuation to commonly confused words.

Five chapters break the content down into sections: parts of speech, sentence structure, punctuation, writing style and common mistakes. Each sub-section, nouns for example, are given a two page spread infographic that provides a basic explanation, uses, fun facts, more details, and handy to know tips. All this, presented as beautiful, highly colourful infographics.

The graphic design work in this book is fabulous. The information given is simple. Clear examples are provided. The layout of each infographic is pleasing to the eye and did I mention colour? So much colour, different texts, and fun graphics. There isn’t a lot of text on each page and the font is big and bold.

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Book Review: Spirits of the Coast

Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in science, art and history – Martha Black (ed), Lorne Hammond (ed), Gavin Hanke (ed), Nikki Sanchez (ed) – The Royal British Columbia Museum – Published 15 May 2020

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Synopsis

Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists, and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in settler cultures as “killer whales,” and respected and honored by Indigenous cultures as friends, family, or benefactors, orcas are complex social beings with culture and language of their own. With contributors ranging from Briony Penn to David Suzuki, Gary Geddes and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, this collection brings together diverse voices, young and old, to explore the magic, myths, and ecology of orcas. A literary and visual journey through past and possibility, Spirits of the Coast illustrates how these enigmatic animals have shaped us as much as our actions have impacted them, and provokes the reader to imagine the shape of our shared future.

My thoughts

As a lover of all thing orca I knew I just had to read this book. And it was beautiful from cover to cover. There are many books out there about orcas, from introductory marine science books for kids to exposés about orcas in captivity. Spirits of the Coast captures all of that, as well as the elements I have often found to be missing from previous books, most notably that of an indigenous perspective. Through stories, poems, retellings, drawings, photographs, sculpture, museum exhibits, reflections, and articles, Spirits of the Coast captures a wide perspective on the amazing orcas and their history of interactions with humans. From the heartbreaking and despairing to the hopeful and uplifting, Spirits of the Coast is a powerful compendium.

Spirits of the Coast is divided into three main sections: Connection, Captivity and Consciousness. Throughout each, the power and magnificence of the orca is clearly portrayed. There is respect and awe and it seeps through every word, photograph and artwork.

At all times this is a book about orcas from a human perspective. That perspective spans many generations, cultures, opinions and angles. I loved that it contains many works of art, stories, and retellings from an indigenous perspective. Other books on orcas and their interactions with humans often neglect this perspective. It is so important.

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Book Review: The Spirit of Springer

The Spirit of Springer: The Real-Life Rescue of an Orphaned Orca – Amanda Abler and Levi Hastings (ill) – Little Bigfoot – Published 24 March 2020

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Synopsis

In 2002, a killer whale calf was discovered swimming alone in Puget Sound. This picture book follows the true story of her identification as a member of the A4 pod, a family of Northern Resident orcas living off the coast of British Columbia, and the team of scientists who worked together against all odds to save her from starvation and reunite her with her family.

The challenges of capturing Springer, transporting her north from Puget Sound to Canadian waters, and coordinating her release to facilitate a hopeful acceptance back into her family are brought to life.

My thoughts

The Spirit of Springer is a delightful story that retells the true events of the rescue and successful release of killer whale calf, Springer. The soft illustrations bring the events of the story to life. It’s a detailed and compelling story.

The writing does a fantastic job of placing the reader directly in the story, and setting the scene. The book is told from the perspective of the humans that interacted with Springer, from the ferry worker who spotter her alone to the scientists who worked to reunite her with her family. While this was a project that drew many people together, this book focuses on the work of Dr David Huff, a veterinarian at the Vancouver Aquarium and Dr Lance Barrett-Lennard, a marine mammal scientist.

The book explains both the media attention Springer received, the concern of the public and the details of her rescue, rehabilitation and release. Built into the story are explanations of scientific terminology, like dialect.

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Book Review: Bringing Back the Wolves

Bringing Back the Wolves: How a Predator Restored an Ecosystem – Jude Isabella and Kim Smith (ill.) – Kids Can Press – Published 3 March 2020

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Synopsis

An unintended experiment in Yellowstone National Park, in which an ecosystem is devastated and then remarkably rehabilitated, provides crucial lessons about nature’s intricate balancing act.

In the 1800s, hunters were paid by the American government to eliminate threats to livestock on cattle ranches near Yellowstone National Park. They did such a good job that, by 1926, no gray wolf packs were left in the park. Over the following decades, virtually every other part of the park’s ecosystem was affected by the loss of the wolves — from the animals who were their prey, to the plants that were the food for that prey, to the streams that were sheltered by those plants — and the landscape was in distress. So, starting in 1995, in an attempt to reverse course, the government reintroduced gray wolves to the park. Over time, animal populations stabilized, waterways were restored and a healthy ecosystem was recreated across the land. It’s a striking transformation, and a fascinating tale of life’s complicated interdependencies.

My thoughts

Bringing Back the Wolves – How A Predator Restored An Ecosystem explains about the history of the wolf in the Yellow Stone National Park in the US. From the hunting of wolves in the 1800s and the result this had on the Park to the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, this book explores the impact of an apex predator and how the Park has changed since the wolves have returned.

There is a wonderful sense of nature fixing its self as this book clearly steps out the impact of the wolves. Bringing Back the Wolves does a fantastic job of clearly and simply articulating the complex relationships involved and the intricacies of the impacts.

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Book Review: Your Team Loves Mondays…Right?

Your Team Loves Mondays…Right? – Kristin Sherry – Black Rose Writing – Published 20 February 2020

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Synopsis

According to Gallup research, 9 out of 10 people are not naturally wired to manage people. Yet, two-thirds of managers are thrown into supervising people without direction. Kristin Sherry had a similar experience leading a team of 31 people for the first time without preparation.

Packed with practical tools, frameworks and tips to grow your confidence and people management capabilities, this book will help you discover if management is the best fit for your talents, reveal directing and delegating styles, offer strategies and tactics for hiring, onboarding, training, developing others, and retaining and offboarding employees.

Readers will find step-by-step support to create development plans, give feedback, motivate others and facilitate feedback sessions in this toolbox of actionable guidance.

Hard learned lessons combined with experience coaching managers to improve their skills are delivered in this easy-to-follow guide to earn your team’s respect, get better results and help your team love Mondays.

My thoughts

The title of this book is what caught my eye. I thought it was the perfect way of capturing when a team can have some difficulties working together, when personalities get in the way of productivity or working together. Your Team Loves Mondays…Right? is a practical guide to management, and encompasses a range of topics from key management traits to the entire process through onboarding to offbording.

This book is suitable for managers or for would-be managers. It’s also helpful to those of us who are not managers but must work in a team and under managers. There are practical tips and plenty of examples. Kristin A. Sherry writes from her vast practical experience.

The book starts with breaking down the most effective characteristics of managers and moves into an assessment for the reader’s management style and fit for managerial work. The book then moves into the many possible stages of management, from hiring workers, induction training, working with their teams and training them up to the way in which to best go about discharging employees.

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